Mirard Joseph was captured in a widely publicized photo of a Border Patrol agent riding on horseback holding him by the collar and trying to drag him back to Rio Grande. This river divides the U.S. and Mexico.
Joseph was crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico to feed his family. The agent tried to drag Joseph back to the water. According to the lawsuit, the Biden administration allegedly deliberately withheld humanitarian aid to the area to discourage migrants from crossing.
Paul Doe, a unnamed plaintiff from Haiti, claimed that he witnessed U.S. authorities beating migrants, and then shoving them into the river.
Paul claimed that he witnessed an officer cut the rope of several migrants trying to cross the river more safely. He yelled at them to get back, as they struggled above water.
Immigrant advocacy groups Justice Action Center and Haitian Bridge Alliance represent the migrants. Innovation Law Lab is also representing them. They want the government to allow them to return to the U.S., and to give them the chance to apply for asylum.
ABC News reported previously on emails from CBP detailing warnings about a massive migrant influx in Del Rio in June. Local officials warned that the record-setting level of migration to the southwest border was already putting pressure on local resources.
In the lawsuit, Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were named as defendants. Lawyers cite Mayorkas' Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti that he extended last summer. They claim the administration knew of the dire conditions in which they were sending migrants back to the experience.
Mayorkas responded to the photos in September by saying, "Let's be clear: We do not tolerate any abuse of any migrant"
The photos show agents who were assigned administrative duties, while an investigation by Customs and Border Protection into their conduct continues.
Joseph was then sent back to Haiti by U.S. officials. He now awaits the chance to return to the U.S. to claim asylum.